New master’s degree to give students an edge
Admissions for the hands-on program will end in June
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 18:03
The Graduate Studies Program now offers a Master of Science in Athletic Training with the first set of classes beginning this summer.
“We are transitioning to a master’s program because that is the way athletic training is moving towards,” Athletic Training Education Program Director Kristi White said. “In the past you used to be able to become a physical therapist with just a bachelor’s degree, and then they changed it to a master’s. Now it is a [Doctor of Physical Therapy]. It is kind of what athletic training is doing too. Right now it is a bachelor’s degree and we are transitioning to the master’s degree. We are being a little bit proactive. We are not waiting until the last minute to start the program. We are getting a jump on it and being at the forefront of making that transition.”
Lecturer Sara Meadows said White has worked on this program for about two years from start to finish and it has been quite the process.
“I think it is a really great thing because athletic training as a profession is becoming more and more distinguished every year just because we are needed in more high schools, universities and clinics for the simple fact that athletes will be athletes,” Meadows said. “[Athletes] really need someone who will guide them to recover from injuries. This is definitely a move in the right direction. Not only do [students] have a bachelor’s degree in their choosing, they will have a master’s degree in athletic training which will set them apart from someone who just has a bachelor’s degree.”
The athletic training program is a two-year 44 credit hour program, White said. The program is designed to help individuals pursue certification and licensure as an athletic trainer.
“It will be strictly athletic training classes that the students will be taking,” White said. “When they come in the summer, they will be taking classes such as advanced anatomy imaging class, an emergency management skills class, and then have a basic clinical skills class. [The students] get to play with stimulation, ultra sound and laser equipment. They will have research class. The students will have administration classes and rehabilitation classes to help them set up rehabilitation programs for injured people.”
In order to be eligible for the program, candidates must have a confirmed baccalaureate degree in something other than athletic training with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Candidates must also have completed the following courses: one semester of biology (with lab), one semester of chemistry (with lab), one semester of physics (with lab), two semesters of anatomy and physiology or equivalent (with lab), exercise physiology, general psychology, statistics, nutrition and biomechanics.
“The difference between these courses is that they are at a graduate level so the intensity will be pumped up a little bit,” White said. “Instead of [completing the program] in four years they will do it in two years.”
Because athletic training is a hands-on profession, there will be in-class sessions with minimal online work students will have to complete, White said.
“One thing that we experienced in the past is we have lots of student athletes who want to do athletic training but it is very difficult for them to get the clinical experience because they have their commitments to their sports,” White said. “It is a good opportunity for people to learn more about what athletic training is and who athletic trainers are. The population is becoming more active and there are always injuries with that so I think this is going to be a new opportunity for people to do.”
White said there is some in-house recruiting within the physical therapy department because people don’t understand what athletic training is, and what the athletic trainers do.
“People think we stand on the sidelines at high school and college games but really 30 percent of all athletic trainers work in a clinic or hospital,” White said.
Admissions will be open until June, and the class pursuing the degree this summer should graduate May of 2015, White said.
“In the future, we want our cutoff date to be about March 1 for applications so we can get our classes set,” White said. “Since we are a brand new program it is kind of a challenge to get the word of mouth out. We expect our first cohort to be pretty small. That is usually what you see with graduate programs. They start out small, and then increase in size.”